Latest reviews of new albums:
  • lure_wildernessComposed by Franz Waxman
  • Varese Sarabande CD Club VCL 0309 1092 / 2009 / 61:34

Franz Waxman won two Oscars in a row in 1950 and 1951, for the brilliant Sunset Boulevard and A Place in the Sun; and he followed them up with a score for a considerably less prestigious film, Lure of the Wildernessstarring Jeffrey Hunter.  It made its CD debut earlier in 2009 in Varese Sarabande’s CD Club.Waxman was of course one of the greatest composers of the Golden Age, his music rarely stepping over the line into melodrama, one of the most frequent complaints about some of his peers.  For this reportedly rather daft film, he provided a score which is anything but daft – indeed, it sounds just as sincere and serious as this composer’s scores usually do.  Waxman needed to combine adventure, action, romance and even a bit of comedy – and those elements (certainly the first three) are all done very well.  The music is bold, buoyant and boisterous – and of course, beautifully-orchestrated by Leonid Raab.

Having said that, there is a sense that Waxman wasn’t particularly inspired by the film.  This is not music which approaches his finest – all the craft is there, all the technical gifts, but just for once I’m not sure I can quite feel the passion.  The comic interludes don’t come over all that well – no doubt they were fine for the film, but they’re not so appealing on the CD.  The music’s clearly of interest to any Waxman fan, and I really enjoy it – it’s just not up there with his best.  This is a beautifully-produced CD, by Nick Redman – shorter cues are put together into longer suites (there are just seven tracks on the hour-long album), the sound is as good as it could be, and Julie Kirgo’s liner notes smart and entertaining in equal measure.  ***

Buy from

Tags: ,

  1. Alex Cope (Reply) on Friday 25 September, 2009 at 16:38

    The opening and closing are particularly strong, but whenever I listen to the whole album I inevitably find myself wondering about forty minutes in just how much longer it’s going to go on. I admire the craft Waxman displays in playing with motifs here, and I appreciate that all of this has been preserved, but it’s pretty average to me. I agree with the three stars.